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Beijing accuses Britain of recruiting married couple working for Chinese govt to ‘spy’ for its intelligence

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Laying heavy accusations of ‘espionage’ against Britain, China has said that the nation recruited a married couple who was working for the Chinese government to spy for the UK’s MI6 secret intelligence service, CNN reported.

In a statement, China’s civilian spy agency, the Ministry of State Security (MSS), said it just cracked a “major espionage case” involving MI6, revealing two crucial spies “planted by the British side within our ranks.”

The claim comes only weeks after British police charged three people with espionage for Hong Kong’s intelligence service, and follows charges made in April against two other persons accused of spying for China, including a former researcher for a prominent Conservative Party legislator, according to CNN.

These charges in the UK come after China’s MSS said in January that it had imprisoned the leader of a foreign consultant who had allegedly spied for MI6.

Under Xi Jinping, the country’s secret spy agency has significantly increased its public presence and scope. From a dark organisation with no discernible public face, the MSS has grown into a highly visible force in public affairs.

Over the last six months, the MSS, according to CNN has made regular public pronouncements of destroying foreign eavesdropping programmes, assertions that are impossible to verify due to their nature but portray the agency positively and serve as constant reminders to Chinese civilians to be alert.

In its latest statement which was rolled out on Monday, the MSS detailed its allegations against the married couple.

It said that an alleged spy, identified only by his surname Wang, worked in an undisclosed important state institution with “access to core confidential information.”

According to the MSS, MI6 valued Wang’s access and “swiftly approved” his application to study in the UK under an exchange programme in 2015.

MI6 allegedly invited Wang to lunches and trips when he was studying in Britain to discover his “character weaknesses and personal interests,” according to MSS.

The Chinese agency claimed that after discovering Wang had “a strong desire for money,” the British espionage agency employed an alumnus to lure him into a part-time consultancy gig with significant remuneration, CNN reported.

The MSS further alleged that MI6 personnel approached Wang to work for the British government with promises of higher monetary rewards and security guarantees, to which he agreed and received espionage training before he was asked to return to China to gather intelligence.

MI6 reportedly frequently pressed Wang to persuade his wife, who worked for a “core” government agency, to join the espionage, promising to quadruple the pay, the MSS claimed.

The case, as of now remains under investigation.